The decision to ask your spouse for a divorce should not be entered into lightly. Filing for divorce will have far-reaching emotional and financial consequences, which are even more problematic if children are involved. If you are just beginning to consider a divorce, working with a therapist or a marriage counselor can provide you guidance and solutions for the problems you are facing and may help you decide the best course of action.
Asking your spouse for a divorce is a conversation that should be given careful consideration. The tone set during this initial conversation has potential to establish the tone for the entire dissolution process. Before you undertake this discussion with your spouse, there are a few considerations you need to make.
EDUCATE YOURSELF REGARDING THE DIVORCE PROCESS.
Before asking your spouse for a divorce, you should educate yourself on your rights, financial situation and have a full understanding of your expectations for the divorce. Once you begin the process of discussing a divorce, the conversation will most likely progress through all facets of your life and all the problems you have encountered during your marriage. It is important to separate topics such as custody, living and financial arrangements. You should enter the conversation with a clear idea of what you feel is fair and the outcome you hope to achieve. This will help avoid sacrificing issues that are valuable to you just to avoid conflict. On the other hand, it will be easier to pick and choose your “battles” if you have a clear idea of what is important to you. Oftentimes, the children can be taken completely out of the equation and acceptable custody and parenting time arrangements can be agreed to without conflict. A simple financial disentanglement is always easier than a full-blown custody battle and much less expensive.
After you have been able to evaluate your own particular situation and have a solid understanding of your rights and liabilities, the next step is to choose a time and place that will allow you and your spouse to have an appropriate discussion. The time, place and setting will be different for everyone, but it is important to select a time and place that will create an atmosphere that will support a positive conversation. It is also important to make sure that you are well rested, and relaxed. It is important to anticipate how your spouse may respond to the conversation. If there is a possibility that your spouse could become violent or extremely agitated, it will be important to make sure a professional such as a therapist, a relative or family friend is involved in planning the divorce conversation. The focus should be on a civil conversation designed to obtain an amicable conversation. This may involve introducing the topic, disengaging and scheduling additional conversations to avoid high conflict.
STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Initiating the topic of divorce will always be challenging. People tend to want to say their piece and leave. This approach rarely works and usually leads to an escalation of tensions and animosity. It is important to give your spouse the opportunity to talk and express their feelings and desires with respect to the divorce and the marriage. Identifying problems in the marriage and a mutual desire to correct them can also lead to a successful reconciliation. It is important to minimize conflict during the initial discussion.
This is not the time to try to win arguments or create more conflict. You can expect problem issues to arise that have been contentious throughout the marriage. These problems have most likely been discussed numerous times throughout the relationship and these problems are highly unlikely to be resolved now. This isn’t the time to try to win these arguments and it is important to walk away if the conversation becomes unproductive or turns into a shouting match.
It is important not to allow this discussion to escalate to an argument or a violent confrontation. If the conversation isn’t going well, a time-out would be appropriate. Simply walk away and allow the situation to calm down until the parties are ready to discuss the issues. It is important not to intensify the situation by creating allegations that could make the entire divorce process more difficult and much more expensive.
Asking your spouse for a divorce is a daunting proposition but sometimes it simply can’t be avoided. By taking your time, educating yourself and having a clear plan of action before you begin the conversation will increase the likelihood of an amicable dissolution. Oregon and Washington are both “no fault” states and the reason for the divorce will not be important to the Court. You do not have to have permission of your spouse to obtain a divorce. All that is required is “irreconcilable differences”.
CONTACT PAUL F. SHERMAN FOR EXPERT ADVISE ON YOUR DIVORCE
We know you have more questions and we have the answers. If you would like to learn more about divorce, child custody or any family law matter, call the Law Offices of Paul F. Sherman at (503) 223-8441 for legal advice, or Contact Us for a free consultation.